What does it mean to make an event accessible? It means anticipating attendees’ needs so that the event can be enjoyed by all people to the greatest extent possible. It also means providing an effective means of responding to specific requests for accommodations, where needed.
As event planners, it’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate and enjoy the event experience. In this blog post, we’ll showcase several cost effective ways to make an event more accessible.
Accessible Access to Parking: Ensuring Ease of Arrival
Accessibility begins right from the moment attendees arrive at the event venue. Offering accessible parking spots close to the entrance guarantees that individuals with mobility challenges can conveniently access the event. Clearly marking these spaces with signage and ensuring that they are easily identifiable demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity. GFS Events recommends sending out Know Before You Go emails which includes specific information on accessible parking at the venue as well as other parking options if there is an option for valet.
Elevators and Ramps: Opening Doors to All Attendees
Physical barriers can hinder individuals with mobility limitations from participating fully. Installing ramps and having elevators ensures that all attendees, including those who use wheelchairs or have difficulty navigating stairs, can move around the event space freely. GFS Events incorporates ramps up to the stage (instead of stairs) at many of our events. We also make sure that our team has someone available to guide speakers to these points of entry, if needed.
Contrast Checker: Enhancing Visual Accessibility
Visual accessibility is vital, and one essential tool in achieving this is WebAIM’s online contrast checker. Ensuring sufficient contrast between text and the background aids individuals with visual impairments in reading and comprehending content. By using the contrast checker, we can ensure that event materials, including event signage, brochures, and digital content, are easy to read for everyone.
Closed Captioning: Bridging Communication Gaps
For event videos and speeches, closed captioning is a game-changer. It provides real time speech to text translation for attendees. Offering captioning ensures that every spoken word is accessible, which allows for effective communication and equal participation for all. GFS Events recommends incorporating closed captioning for all videos at an event.
Alt Text: Making Images Speak Volumes
Images hold a wealth of information, and providing alt text is key to making them accessible to visually impaired attendees. Alt text is a brief description of an image that screen readers can read aloud. Including alt text allows visually impaired participants to understand and engage with visual content, ensuring that no one misses out on any part of the event. You can add these in emails, social media, and websites.
GFS Events includes alt text in our monthly newsletters
Description of Speaker When Speaking: A Guided Experience
During events where speakers take the stage, it’s essential to describe not only the topic but also the speaker themselves. This practice aids those who are blind or have visual impairments in forming a mental picture of the speaker. Adding a few words to introduce the speaker can create a more immersive and inclusive experience. “I am a mid-30s white woman with glasses wearing a green blouse and black pants” is an example of a short description that a speaker can incorporate into their introduction.
In an age where diversity and inclusivity are celebrated, ensuring accessibility at events is no longer an option; it is a necessity. If we want our events to be memorable and meaningful event experiences, it is vital for all of us to commit to making our events inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to everyone.
If you want to learn more about how to incorporate more accessibility into your next fundraiser, click on the link below to set up a 30-minute consultation call!